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Thread: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

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    The Blue Boy's Avatar
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    Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    From Peta-Pixel's blog,

    Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Jim Harmer of Improve Photography conducted an interesting experiment in which he stacked the Gary Fong Lightsphere up against an ordinary piece of tupperware:

    "The Gary Fong Lightsphere costs $50. For a hunk of rubber that produces only marginal improvements over the on-camera flash in my opinion, that is just way too much money. The fact is that the darn thing looks like a piece of tupperware to me. So, I got curious. Was this product doing anything that any other hunk of plastic couldn’t do?"

    His conclusion is that there was absolutely no difference in quality, and that you should save your money by using a makeshift diffuser.

    Just nicked this from Peta-Pixel as it gave me a bit of a chuckle!

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Hi Mark,

    I think that a lot of people don't understand how diffusion works with things like this. It's not the lightsphere / tupperware doing the diffusion (or very little) - the diffusion comes from increasing the effective size of the light source relative to the subject. So a basic flash might be 2 square inches - a diffuser on the flash might change that to 10 square inches (which isn't anything significant) - but what it's really doing is spreading the light all around the room so that the effective size of the light source goes from being a handful of square inches to many hundred of square feet - THAT's where the diffusion is occuring.

    But wait - there's more! Diffused light is better than directional hard light - but there's something better than that again - it's directional diffused light, and with the lightsphere - in addition to spreading the light around the room, it also fires a component pretty much in the direction of the subject (something that a lot of other diffusers don't do).

    My experience with other diffusers (Stofen type) is that they CAN produce a good light, but they often don't do it as consistently, and bounced (naked) flash if it's bounced off the ceiling typically produces "office lighting" which isn't very flattering (typically a degree of racoon eyes). The lightspheres typically do a pretty good job - can't say I've tried tupperware / milk bottles. Who knows - they might produce similar results, but I might add that I don't think a single-condition test like the above is really sufficient evidence to "bury them once and for all" I've also seen an entire theatre with hundreds of seats lit up by a single flash with a lightsphere, and I doubt the milk bottle would do that very evenly (who knows about the tupperware)

    All I can say is that I own 4 of them - and I really didn't mind forking out the $$$. It's all very well for folks to come along and "re-invent" them after the fact, but Gary got my money because he thought of them first, and for that reason I like to support people like that (pretty much same reason I don't buy cheap ripoff products (I usually stick to genuine products).

    Just my 10c worth.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Colin,

    Totally agree with you. We use 'em for weddings. Like I said above, it just gave me a chuckle.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    All I can say is that I own 4 of them - and I really didn't mind forking out the $$$. It's all very well for folks to come along and "re-invent" them after the fact, but Gary got my money because he thought of them first, and for that reason I like to support people like that (pretty much same reason I don't buy cheap ripoff products (I usually stick to genuine products).

    Just my 10c worth.
    If I look around on the internet I don't even think he was the first. For many many years people have been sticking al sorts of stuff on and around their flash-units. But I do give him cuddos for being the first to mass-produce practical working designs that use a combination of deflection and diffusion to create a soft flood-light in an easy to carry package.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hero View Post
    If I look around on the internet I don't even think he was the first. For many many years people have been sticking al sorts of stuff on and around their flash-units. But I do give him cuddos for being the first to mass-produce practical working designs that use a combination of deflection and diffusion to create a soft flood-light in an easy to carry package.
    You could well be right. These days (from a business perspective) one gets 1 point for thinking of an idea, and the other 99 for successfully bringing it to market.

    Out of interest, Gary wrote an autobiography called "The accidental Millionaire", which I read - I have to say, I have a lot of respect for what that guy has achieved. It was an excellent read; he's certainly not had anything "handed to him on a plate". I'd proudly shake his hand and say "well done".

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Yup, he certainly self promotes. I went to a talk of his once, promoted as Tip on Wedding Photography. Out of 45 minutes allocated, no more than 20 minutes (being generous) was on topic. The rest of the time was on how hard he worked and his various companies (including a plastics company) and how ingenious his 'inventions' were.
    I got the feeling that evertime he looks in a mirror he sees his number one fan.
    Graham

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post

    . . . All I can say is that I own 4 of them - and I really didn't mind forking out the $$$. It's all very well for folks to come along and "re-invent" them after the fact, but Gary got my money because he thought of them first, and for that reason I like to support people like that (pretty much same reason I don't buy cheap ripoff products (I usually stick to genuine products).

    Just my 10c worth.
    I hate to break this to you, but I will. The only thing that Gary Fong invented was a method of selling cheap diffusers for a high price. People have been diffusing light for ages with whatever they had available. If anything, Fong did nothing more than market pre-existing technique.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dismayed View Post
    I hate to break this to you, but I will. The only thing that Gary Fong invented was a method of selling cheap diffusers for a high price. People have been diffusing light for ages with whatever they had available. If anything, Fong did nothing more than market pre-existing technique.
    I don't think that's entirly accurate; he's not selling diffusion - he's selling a device that accomplishes that. It's my observation that the lightspheres do work better - over a wider range of conditions - than many other types, but there's no doubt that he makes an EXCELLENT markup on them.

    Having just said that, as I mentioned earlier in the thread, one gets one point for thinking of the idea, and the other 99 for successfully bringing it to market -- which he did - and which I really don't have a problem with. Now that he's done it, it's easier for others to come along and copy them (which they've done). He's happy - I'm happy - counterfeiters are happy - those buying the counterfeit items are happy - seems everyone is happy

    PS: Interestingly, there's a LOT more to Gary Fong's balance sheet than just the lightspheres.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Fong is good at marketing. As for the distinction between selling diffusion and selling a device - you are being pedantic. People have been diffusing light by using devices for ages.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dismayed View Post
    Fong is good at marketing.
    Absolutely.

    As for the distinction between selling diffusion and selling a device - you are being pedantic.
    I disagree.

    People have been diffusing light by using devices for ages.
    Agreed, but there is a vast difference in how many of those devices perform. The ones that simply increase the size of the lightsource (say from 2 square inches to maybe 4 to 36 square inches) really don't do a darned thing unless you're shooting a macro subject because the effective size of the light source isn't changing significantly enough (or at best, the effect is minimal). Those that direct the light in a certain direction can work OK, but it really depends on what's in that direction, and thus results can be very inconsistent (and unless one has a forward-facing component you're likely to end up with racoon eyes and dark areas between the hair/skin of longer haired subjects). The Lightsphere was the first that I'm aware of that throws the light in ALL directions (or at least the first that's more dignified and controlled than taping plastic a milk bottle to a vertically-oriented flash unit).

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    I think we'll simply have to agree to disagree. I don't consider Fong's devices to be a significant inventions, so I haven' spent my money on any of them. You are, of course, free to differ and to buy his devices.

  12. #12
    rob marshall

    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    I have two of them (Lightspheres) They talk to one another in the small hours of the night while I sleep. They might even be mating and creating baby-spheres!

    Colin is right. Increasing the size of the difusion area is the only way to do it properly. The material (as long as it's translucent) doesn't matter too much. A white pillow case might be better (and cheaper), but you might look foolish trying to hold up a pillow case and shoot with your camera - although it would make an amusing shot in itself. What you could do is shoot with the flash off-camera and shoot through a white flash umbrella or a pop-out circular diffuser. But you can't do that for candid shots.

    I use a Nissin di866 which has a front fill-flash as well as the main flash head. So you can bounce off a ceiling and the front flash fills in as well. http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-...n-fit/p1031356

    Must go, the spheres have started fighting...
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 5th December 2011 at 07:13 PM.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    Increasing the size of the difusion area is the only way to do it properly.
    This is the point I'm trying (badly!) to make. With diffusers like the Stofen and Lumiquest, they don't spread the light around much (Stofen more so, but it doesn't distribute it very well. Lumiquest on the other hand spreads it around less, but relies more on the bigger surface area) - so in my opinion, neither are ideal (Stofen = poor light distribution, Lumiquest = insufficient relative light size increase), whereas the lightshphere throws the light evenly all around the room for bounced fill light, but with a direct portion as well -- so quite different (and better IMO) in the way it works compared to the other two. Would a pillow work - yep - probably would. I've seen it done with a plastic milk bottle too; the difference of course is that no professional is going to turn up with either of those on their camera

    So although the concept has been around forever, Gary Fong put that into a respectable device that works - marketed it well - and made a ton of money in the process (and good on him too). I've got 4 of them, and have no regrets (even though I typically use bigger and more controllable light sources these days). It's interesting that a lot of alternatives are now starting to pop up, but it's worthy of note that they're doing so AFTER Gary's invention, not before.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    I have a not so unique problem that I am about to use the gary fong device in my solution....
    The setup is an end of year concert/awards presentation.
    Off camera flash not possible due to lecturns and lines of kiddies etc etc
    Most of the time when I have done concerts in this venue all the action is face on to the audience & using a wide aperture & letting the stage lighting do all the work, with no flash has been fine....
    this time, The teacher turns side on with the kiddie receiving the certificate and lots of shadow on faces & the racoon look Colin refers to have been results that I have seen in the archives.
    My plan is to use some flash with this diffuser in an aim to fill in some of the shadows, as they are not performing at this time, use of flash is allowed, so I will let you know how it goes.
    There is a rehearsal, so I will try a few techniques then to see what works best... another idea I had was to lay a silver reflector on the ground to try to fill in the eye sockets... but that would look a wee bit like the pillow case option methinks.. & I'm not aware of others using that technique.

    this is below what I don't want to have as my results
    wednesday night is the gig, to see how I go.
    Gary Fong will not be pleased...

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    If this location is typical, unless there is a large white wall behind you to bounce the light off, the increase in size of illuminating light source using a light sphere (or equivalent) is minimal compared to no light modifier (a point made several times already). As such I would not expect any significant difference between modified and unmodified light. Perhaps just a blip of direct flash to mitigate the racoon look.

    If no light is reflected as a result of using the modifier, then there is no benefit. Disadvantage is in recharge rate and the possibility that not enough light is reaching the subject.

    I have seen many people use this type of modifier (most recently Thursday at a fund raiser, large room, black ceiling, white wall BEHIND subject, not behind camera), and when I have seen the end result, there is no difference in image with direct, unmodified flash.

    Only advantage I can see, in these circumstances, is that it looks more impressive. And that may be a useful trait.

    Graham

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    If this location is typical, unless there is a large white wall behind you to bounce the light off, the increase in size of illuminating light source using a light sphere (or equivalent) is minimal compared to no light modifier (a point made several times already). As such I would not expect any significant difference between modified and unmodified light. Perhaps just a blip of direct flash to mitigate the racoon look.

    If no light is reflected as a result of using the modifier, then there is no benefit. Disadvantage is in recharge rate and the possibility that not enough light is reaching the subject.

    I have seen many people use this type of modifier (most recently Thursday at a fund raiser, large room, black ceiling, white wall BEHIND subject, not behind camera), and when I have seen the end result, there is no difference in image with direct, unmodified flash.

    Only advantage I can see, in these circumstances, is that it looks more impressive. And that may be a useful trait.

    Graham
    Hi Kay,

    I agree with Graham. Basically, if there's no surfaces to bounce the light off (thus nothing to make the effective light source bigger), then no on-camera diffuser is going to make much difference, and you're immediately into a conventional fill flash situation. Having said that, there's nothing particularly wrong with direct fill flash; the light won't be as flattering as controlled light in a studio, but it'll still be one heck of a lot better than none at all.

    I'd forget the reflector on the floor idea - it won't work in this situation unless you can fire some flash light into it. A better solution would be to have lighting setup on stage and triggered remotely, but that's getting into the realm of fairly expensive pro gear. Failing that, just stick to solid exposures at an elevated (but not estreme) ISO, and use the fill light slider. Definately an occasion where a tripod would help if available.

    It's a good topic for Bill to chip in on - I can bring it to his attention if you'd like?

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Thanks Graham & Colin I understand what you're saying & all help greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

    p.s thinking logically - of course the reflector on the floor idea wouldn't be suitable due to the distance the stage lights are away up on the roof from the reflector..... is that a correct assumption...

    p.p.s sorry to deviate from the original post/thread...
    Last edited by wilgk; 6th December 2011 at 04:48 AM.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    I am finding myself in a similar spot as you Kay. Large room, high ceiling low light and no lighting set-up allowed. I went today to my camera shop to look for a fix. I pray I have found it. While I do like the spheres....I know I will need a bit more. So I am going to try out a newer product from Rogue photgraphic design. { I say new, but infact it got the Pop Award 2010} They are calling it a Flash Bender. I have played with it some and it seems as if it will do the trick. I got the larger of the two sizes.

    Has anyone any experience with these? It is like having a 10"x10" reflector attatched to the flash and you can bend it to the shape you want to control the light.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    I am finding myself in a similar spot as you Kay. Large room, high ceiling low light and no lighting set-up allowed. I went today to my camera shop to look for a fix. I pray I have found it. While I do like the spheres....I know I will need a bit more. So I am going to try out a newer product from Rogue photgraphic design. { I say new, but infact it got the Pop Award 2010} They are calling it a Flash Bender. I have played with it some and it seems as if it will do the trick. I got the larger of the two sizes.

    Has anyone any experience with these? It is like having a 10"x10" reflector attatched to the flash and you can bend it to the shape you want to control the light.
    Hi Paul,

    I hate to say it, but I really can't see what it's going to accomplish apart from decrease the effectiveness of the flash (unless you're fairly up close and personal). If the subject is quite a few meters away then a direct-pointing flash is going to deliver more energy "on target" than one that's directed AWAY from the subject and is subsequently reflected back towards them (there's only so much energy being emitted, so all the reflector can do is lose some of it) (or perhaps concentrate it a little, but I'm yet to be convinced it could be more efficient at doing that than a zoomed flash head).

    The reflector may well increase the effective size of the light source slightly, but unless you're up close and personal you quickly get into the law of "diminishing returns" where a 10" x 10" light source probably won't soften hard shadows much more than one that's 1" by 2".

    Edit: I should add that they look like a great piece of kit for shielding light away from specific areas -- I just don't think they'll be of any great help (over conventional fill flash) in the above type scenario.

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    Re: Gary Fong will not be pleased...

    Colin, I may not have explained what I had envisioned very well. I find with a directed flash it is to concentrated and could do with a little less focussed intensity. The sphere is nice in a smaller room but I am afraid too much of the light will get lost in a ballroom. I will be able to be somewhat close. I am hoping to merely spread the light over a larger yet still somewhat focussed area. So far in my limited testing I have been able to stay away from the coon eyes not having to bounce {if there were walls or ceiling to do so] and I am getting a more natural looking outcome than a directed nekked flash with a larger coverage area though slightly less light. So far I am able to fill the shadows and not create any in the background. Distance is not the issue in my sittuation so much as the size of the room and dim conditions. I will have other options should it go south in the actual sittuation. However so far I am happy with what I see in my limited test, more testing may flush out other issues though. =}
    Last edited by jeeperman; 6th December 2011 at 05:23 AM.

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